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The Man In The High Castle burns it all down

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At this point in the season, The Man In The High Castle is basically an anthology of different shows with a common backdrop and an increasingly tenuous connection between the characters. That probably won’t last—by the end of this episode, two of the main players have (sort of) come back into each other’s orbits in an unexpected way—but for now, it’s pretty easy to play favorites among the individual storylines in progress.

Tagomi’s quest is the most fascinating, even as it continues to raise more questions than it answers. Alternate universes are nothing new on television, as those of us who follow The Flash are well aware, but each show establishes its own set of rules with regard to these other realities. Tagomi doesn’t know the rules here, and so far, neither do we. He stays in what may be our reality (or at least very close to it) for the entire episode, at one point venturing out to a bookstore where he finds a copy of Lolita as well as an illustrated history of World War II revealing a very different (and, to him, shocking) outcome. For the most part, though, he hangs around the house that another version of himself once shared with his estranged wife who is planning to divorce him.

That raises the biggest question about this alternate reality: where is its version of Tagomi? When our version appears there, what happens to his doppelgänger? Isn’t the trade minister at all worried about running into his other self? How long can he be expected to fake his way through a life he can’t remember, one in which he is apparently given to disappearing on benders for days at a time? Especially when it turns out that his son in this reality is married to Juliana, the mother of Tagomi’s grandson?

Alas, these answers are not forthcoming soon, as there is other business to attend to in this hour. Joe is still in Berlin, at least for a few more days. His plan to head back to New York takes a back seat when his father shows him the place he was born: a facility where “racially-desirable” women were used as breeding stock to provide the next generation of SS elite. Joe’s mother was one of those women and Joe himself is a product of this ugly process. Any attempt at lending Joe a little more depth of character is welcome, and Luke Kleintank does some of his best work to date when Joe breaks down over one of the abandoned cribs. It’s also welcome anytime the show provides another reminder that there’s more to the Nazis than spiffy uniforms and gleaming architecture.

Though separated by 3000 miles (and each probably believing the other to be dead), Juliana and Ed find themselves in similar circumstances. Their lives have been spared, but at the cost of turning spy. For Juliana, it shouldn’t be much of a moral dilemma. Once she’s convinced Dixon to meet with her by telling him the Man in the High Castle sent her, she learns that the mystery man in the hat she tried to evade in the last episode is with the Resistance, and he, and many others, want her dead. Dixon doesn’t want that on his conscience, so he cuts her a deal: gather intel on the Smiths and become a trusted confidant. Spying on Nazis, no matter how good their pot roast dinners may be, is an easy call compared to the situation Ed finds himself in. Because the Kempeitai freed him, they expect him to report on his and Frank’s dealings with the Yakuza. Frank is unaware of any of this, since he appears to have completely forgotten about his debt to the Japanese mob now that he’s growing more committed to the Resistance.


Whatever the Resistance is planning, it won’t involve the vast majority of Abendsen’s film collection. Much to Lem’s puzzlement, the Man torches his High Castle, taking only a small stack of film canisters with him. As we see a copy of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy go up in flames, it’s a little odd to recall that this all started with one copy of that film that seemed so important at the time. Things are changing quickly around here.

Stray observations

  • Rock and roll exists in this world, if only on pirate radio out of the Neutral Zone.
  • Whatever Kido is up to, it appears he’s pulling John Smith into his scheme.
  • Fans of Battlestar Galactica got to enjoy a Cylon mini-reunion as Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh) gave the eulogy at Karen’s memorial service, also attended by Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben Conoy).
  • This is a little nitpicky, but I felt like Michiko’s refrigerator had an inordinate amount of Reddi-Wip in it. Then again, maybe that was period-appropriate.

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